Think you know everything there is to know about Walt Disney World? Think again. The most magical place on earth has some cheeky secrets of its own.
Spanning more than 47 square miles, Walt Disney World is the same size as San Francisco, twice the size of Manhattan and 80 times the size of the country of Monaco.
In 1960, the park even became classified as it’s own city. Keen for an expansion on the park grounds, the Disney corporation successfully petitioned the Florida state legislature to let the company govern it’s own land after they realised their intended theme park would extend across two different counties with two different legislative systems. Today, instead of Walt Disney World remaining at the helms of two local governments, Disney officials are able to govern the park as it’s own independent city, with the right to make their own laws.
Tracks stretch across 14 miles, with trains running day in and out.
The exclusive apartment within Walt Disney World’s iconic Cinderella Castle boasts 24 karat gold tile floors and a “magic mirror” that doubles as a TV. Talk about the ultimate upgrade.
The park’s lost and found bins hold a treasure trove of lost goodies.
In his 1994 book Mouse Tales, former Disney employee David Koenig reveals how a tourist group once requested some extra time on The Haunted Mansion ride so they could hold a memorial service for their seven-year-old boy who passed away. Disney permitted, however during their service the mourners were spotted scattering a powder substance off their “doom buggies”. Officials swiftly shut down the ride so that all the remains could be cleaned.
Apparently, this is no isolated incident, with stealthy ash scatterings occurring throughout the park grounds regularly.
The park that makes it’s own laws also can send its visitors to Disney Jail. Disney’s jail is used as a holding area for disruptive guests, with the park even having a code word for its troublemakers. So just a heads up, if you’re being called a “Treasured Guest” by Disney officials, you may be in trouble.
Originally all Toy Story characters in the park would drop to the ground whenever a guest yelled “Andy’s coming!”. An online leak though meant that the Woody, Buzz and the gang found themselves permanently consigned to the floor. Today it’s said that the Pixar’s favourite characters not get low when people yell “Andy’s at college!” instead.
Walt Disney World lives up to reputation as the happiest place on earth with its “No Sad Kids” rule. Cast and staff members at the park replace dropped ice cream and give out free souvenirs to any unhappy children. Cue the waterworks kids!
Feeling flustered about what to do on your trip to Walt Disney World? When in doubt, we always look to our favourite travel bloggers for guidance. Here’s some of the valuable lessons we learned from these stylish travellers’ trips to the most magical place on earth…
Never has skip-the-line access been more vital than at Walt Disney World, one of the most visited attractions on the globe. Wish Wish Wish blogger Carrie explains why she recommends investing in a FastPass+…
“A FastPass+ reservation allows you to gain access to a much, much shorter queue for some of Disney’s most popular rides during your chosen time slot… [Our FastPass+ bookings] meant we didn’t need to queue up for the 90 minutes in the Standby queue!”
Wish Wish Wish blogger, Carrie, gives a few clues on the Hidden Mickey’s whereabouts in her Walt Disney World post…
“If you’ve got a keen eye you’ll be able to spot the famous shape of Mickey’s head with ears in hundreds of places around WDW, whether it’s a design on a carpet, a small detail on a picture frame or even a shadow on a ride.”
Something altogether different, WDW’s Animal Kingdom park was unleashed in 1998, and has been putting visitors face-to-face with more than 1700 diverse animals ever since. Spread across 500 acres of stunning landscape, Animal Kingdom offers a wonderfully adventurous day out. It’s little wonder this park gets so much blogger attention!
6. The Grand Floridian resort is picture-perfect
Make like blogger Olivia Purvis and stay in the stunning Grand Floridian resort, where luxury Victorian-style interiors rule.
Our favourite bloggers recommend purchasing Extra Magic Hours, which allows guests at any of the Walt Disney World resorts access to the theme park both before and after the site closes to the general public. Linger at the park after close to see beautiful sunsets and make the most of this wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
With our trick-or-treating days long behind us, we’re looking for new ways to get into the Halloween spirit this year, and what’s better than a good old-fashioned scare? These creepy tours are guaranteed to leave you shaking in your boots. Be afraid. Be very afraid…
Used in the 18th century as makeshift housing for the poorest and most disreputable sections of Scottish society, the underground vaults of Edinburgh’s South Bridge hold a host of scary secrets.
Hidden from authorities, Edinburgh’s vaults were the stomping ground for the city’s most sinister and shady types with gang violence, body snatchers and prostitution all regular occurrences in this sunken site. Today, long after it’s dwellers lived and died, in the vaults, travellers and locals alike descend below to see the site for themselves. Over the years, those brave souls who ventured down below have recorded some very curious and unexplained ghostly activity. So where better a place to ring in Halloween? Hear all the harrowing happenings of hidden Edinburgh on this epic walking ghost tour.
Fear factor: 9/10
Edinburgh Vaults adults-only ghost tour, £12 per person.
Hear the tales of London’s most gruesome and fascinating murderer on a walking tour through the city’s East End. This Jack the Ripper tour pinpoints the exact spots where the Ripper striked, revealing the horrors that this never-caught killer brought upon his victims in all its gory detail. If that wasn’t enough, this tour also gives a nod to Ripper’s fellow frighteners, with visits to the infamous haunted theatre on Drury Lane, followed by a nightcap in the city’s most haunted pub.
Fear factor: 7/10
Ghosts of London and Jack the Ripper tour, £35 per person.
Italy’s Floating City has been enchanting couples for decades. However, few know of the city’s sinister side that’s far from romantic. Between the narrow river ways and alleys, terrifying events have unfurled in Venice and on this Walking Ghost tour, you’ll uncover them all. From sea monsters and prison drownings to the Street of Assassins and violent robberies, these age-old Venetian legends will have even the bravest of travellers watching their backs the next time they stroll Venice’s streets.
Fear factor: 8/10
Ghost stories in Venice tour, £22 per person.
Anyone who has watched the terrifying blockbuster, The Skeleton Key, will tell you – voodoo magic is scaaaaaary. Unlike the film though, this New Orleans tour covers the real-life practice of voodooism, both then and now, while strolling in the footsteps of voodoo queen, Marie Laveau. A visit to Laveau’s tomb and New Orleans’ oldest surviving graveyard, St Louis Cemetery definitely ups the scare factor, while strolling through the vibrant streets of this mish-mashed city and visiting an authentic voodoo temple reveals there’s more to this spiritual practice than meets the eye.
Fear factor: 6/10
Cemetery and Voodoo walking tour, £18 per person.
If you’re easily queasy, this one isn’t for you. Dug out by second-century Christians to bury their dead, more than 40 twisting labyrinths lie underneath Rome’s city streets, and make a creepy playground for those who dare traipse their halls below.
With walls of the catacombs once framed almost entirely by dead bodies, much of the bones of the dead have now been moved and safely buried in Rome’s churchyards. Don’t fret though, there’s still plenty to see in this ancient burial site. Be sure to visit the Capuchin Crypt, which freakily displays the skeletal remains of more than 3,700 bodies of Capuchin friars just below the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini church.
Fear factor: 6/10
Catacombs of Rome tour, £70 per person.
Universal Orlando puts you at the heart of your own personal ghost story, turning their family-friendly theme park into a spook-tacular fairground during their annual festival, Halloween Horror Nights. With escape rooms and mazes, live actors and never-before-seen virtual reality effects, The Repository is the park’s most terrifying experience yet. A warning though, the Repository is not for the faint of heart, with Universal Orlando promising visitors a scare like no other. Not convinced? Watch the video.
Fear factor: 8/10
Universal Orlando® Resort, ticket prices vary.
Heading to Orlando this summer? Then a trip to a theme park is a must.
Universal Studios has two fantastic theme parks, Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Each park has something for everyone, whether you like action-packed roller coasters, water rides, 4-D shows, or carousels. This information on the best rides, navigation tips and the must-see sites of Universal Studios will ensure you make the most of your visit to one of the world’s most exciting theme parks.
Islands of Adventure is Universals newest theme park and consists of five islands: Marvel Super Hero Island, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, the Lost Continent, and Seuss Landing. Having visited Islands of Adventure numerous times while living in Orlando, I’ve accumulated some handy tips that’ll help you navigate the park and prioritise the best rides if you’re short on time.
All the rides at Islands of Adventure are thrilling. If it’s thrills and spills you’re after, Marvel Island should be your first stop in the Islands of Adventure. The most worthwhile rides to go on in Marvel Super Hero Island are the Incredible Hulk Coaster and the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man. Lines for these rides can reach up to 90 minutes – so be sure to get there early to beat the queue. If waiting in line isn’t your thing, then you should consider purchasing an Express Pass. Express Passes allow you to skip past long lines, ensuring you get to experience all the attractions on offer.
Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges
The next island, Toon Lagoon, is home to epic water rides – the perfect way to cool down in the Florida heat. A Toon Lagoon favourite is Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, a white-water rapids ride that will get you soaked. Be sure to take off your shoes and place them in the bins provided before riding – there is nothing worse than walking around a theme park with soggy shoes!
The third island at Universal Studios, Jurassic Park, is home to the uber-fun ride, the Jurassic Park River Adventure. On board, you’ll watch out for dinosaurs aplenty, but just be wary of the Raptors and T-Rex!
Fire and Ice Dragons
The fourth island at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure is the medieval-themed Lost Continent. Currently, the Lost Continent is being transformed into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The new island is rumoured to open in late 2009. The Lost Continent’s main attraction is Duelling Dragons, an inverted roller coaster featuring two dragon coasters known as the Fire and the Ice dragons.
The final island at Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure is Seuss Landing. Themed around the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss, this island is ideal for the little ones, with tamer rides like the Cat in the Hat and the Seuss Trolley Train Ride proving popular here. Even though this island was designed for children, all ages have fun here.
The Universal Studios slogan, ‘ride the movies,’ is epitomised in this buzzing film-fanatic park.
Full of sharp turns and drops, Revenge of the Mummy is one of the latest rides at Universal Studios. The indoor coaster features scarab beetles, fire, and of course the Mummy himself!
Men in Black
A ship of alien invaders has landed in Manhattan and you must save the city. This interactive ride enrolls you as a ‘Man in Black’, giving you full MIB autonomy to laser up those alience! From one Man in Black to another – aim for the eyes!
Shrek is a fantastic 4D show, following the story of all your favourite characters from the original Shrek movie. This 4D extravaganza attacks all your senses and entertains thoroughly from start to finish.
Board your boat in Amity and tour the marina that Jaws once terrorized, but beware! – rumour has it that there’s a new Great White in town. For excitement, fright, suspense and definitely a few screams, don’t miss this great ride!